It was the largest protest in human history.
It was not only a protest against George W. Bush and his sidekick TonyBlair but also a cry from the heart of the peoples of the world that wewill never accept a war of civilizations provoked by our leaders.
The millions that took to the streets in citiesand towns on every continent were sending a message to both the government of the UnitedStates and to the people of the Middle East. There is no West versusEast, no Christians and Jews versus Muslims, there is only thegovernment of George W. Bush and what’s left of his allies trying todominate the world for economic and political gain.
On every continent, in every language, with one booming global voice, wesaid: No!
The message came not only from the big demonstrations in Europe and New York City that we heard about in the mainstream media. There were protests throughoutLatin America and Asia, as well. There were demonstrations in a large number of American cities. And there was even a demonstration of several thousand Israelis and Palestinians together in Tel Aviv.
Everywhere it was the same: organizers were stunned by the numbers who turned out. And it will make a huge difference. It will strengthen the resolve ofthose Western leaders who have already stood against Bush’s rush to war.It will give more backbone to those like our own leaders in Canada whohave been vacillating. It will weaken the appeal of violence on allsides.
The fundamentalist Muslim message that the West is against the Muslim world will ring hollow in face of this global mobilization against a war with Iraq. Those moving towards the dead-end desperationof terrorism may see a more a hopeful road in the massive uprising ofthe people of the world. It is now much less likely that the SecurityCouncil will be bullied or bribed into submission to the American warmongers.
And should the U.S. continue its treacherous drive towards war and startbombing Iraq, I have little doubt that the anti-war movement in theUnited States will grow bigger and faster and more powerful than theanti-Vietnam movement ever was.
The media is saying these are “the largest anti-war demonstrations since Vietnam,” but they are much larger outside the United States.In Canada, for example, there was never a march of 150,000 in Montrealagainst the Vietnam war or of 80,000 in Toronto. There was never amarch of two million in London, more than a million in Rome andBarcelona and hundreds of thousands in France and Germany. Theanti-Vietnam marches were primarily students. The anti-war coalitionstoday are diverse in age, race and culture. The mainstream labourmovement was not part of that protest as they are today. The fact thatthe president of the Canadian Labour Congress, Ken Georgetti, spoke atthe Toronto demonstration is an important sign that labour is united inan anti-war stance. The diverse ethnic communities in Canada are highly involved in the anti-war movement, too.
Today’s marches are demonstrating the power of international organizing.The idea for a February 15 Day of Action emerged from the EuropeanSocial Forum in November. It spread worldwide through the Internet andthen through the World Social Forum at the end of January in PortoAlegre. At the Brazilian event, leaders and activists from anti-war movements around the globe met and co-ordinated. You saw the result this weekend.
The size of the weekend’s demonstrations show that George W. Bush’sattempts to cloak American aggression in a suit of concern for terrorismand/or weapons of mass destruction has utterly failed. The politics ofthe demonstrations put the blame for war right where it belongs on theshoulders of Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
The mobilizations will only get bigger from here if the aggressioncontinues. The next date for protest in Canada is March 8,International Women’s Day. Hopefully, the idea of using InternationalWomen’s Day as the next day of action will also spread around the world. What could be better than the women of the world leading anti-war marches?
The main danger to anti-war action now is if the U.S. and Britain,through bribes and bullying, manage to broker a deal at the United NationsSecurity Council. If the U.N. approves an attack on Iraq, it may narrowthe base of the movement — many who are against a U.S.-led war would support a U.N.-sanctioned war. There is also, of course, the possibilitythat U.S. covert action will attempt to manufacture another horrifyingincident as they did with the bogus story of Iraqi soldiers killingbabies in incubators during the last Gulf War. Given the level ofawareness today, it would be harder to get away with now.
For now, we should celebrate the extraordinary display of the world’speoples united against a war. In France, the lead banner read,”Together We Can Stop this War.” Today, I believe it.